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Quick Facts

Research funding for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010:

Total research expenditures $ 491.6 million
Sponsored research and project awards $ 614.6 million
Medical Center $ 489.1 million
University $ 125.5 million

In the 2008 fiscal year, Vanderbilt University ranked 20th among U.S. colleges and universities in terms of federal research and development funding.


Research-related awards


  • Stanley Cohen, Medical Center faculty member (1959-90), 1986 Prize in Medicine
  • Max Delbruck, Vanderbilt physics professor (1940-47), 1969 Prize in Physiology or Medicine
  • Stanford Moore, B.A. 1935, 1972 Prize in Chemistry
  • Earl Sutherland Jr., Medical Center faculty member (1963-73), 1971 Prize in Medicine
  • Muhammad Yunus, Ph.D. 1971, 2006 Peace Prize

Link each to a brief bio/description of their research, i.e.,


Research achievements

Discoveries at Vanderbilt that made a difference (could link to another page; see next page)

Patents: 37 U.S. and foreign patents issued to Vanderbilt in 2009 (Source: Chris McKinney, Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development)

Licensing: The amount of license-related revenue reported by OTTED increased nearly four-fold between FY2003 and FY2009, from $3.2 million to $11 million.

Start-up companies: Average of one bioscience-related start-up per year (Chris McKinney)

Example: Cumberland Pharmaceuticals

Discoveries at Vanderbilt that Made a Difference

Bacterial meningitis

Sarah Sell, M.D., was a key player in the development of childhood vaccines against H. influenzae type b (Hib). Introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the vaccines have virtually eliminated bacterial meningitis and its devastating consequences in young children in the United States.

Blue baby surgery

In the 1930s, Alfred Blalock, M.D., and his research assistant Vivien Thomas conducted pioneering research leading to the first cardiothoracic surgery for infants born with “blue baby syndrome.” Blalock’s work was essential to the development of open heart surgery.

Diabetes control

In 1993, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, led by Oscar Crofford, M.D., demonstrated that tight glucose control with insulin can substantially reduce the development of complications of the disease, such as kidney failure and blindness. The trial revolutionized diabetes treatment.

Epidermal growth factor
(could link to Stanley Cohen’s page)

The discovery of this versatile protein led to the development of a new class of anti-cancer drugs.

Folic acid

In 1938, William Darby, M.D., and colleagues were the first to describe anemia caused by folic acid deficiency. They went on to identify a number of other vitamin deficiency states and helped to establish the minimum daily requirements for iron and vitamins in pregnancy.

Head Start

Susan Gray, co-founder of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, helped demonstrate the importance of early childhood education, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Her work inspired the Head Start program.

Low dose aspirin

In the mid 1980s, John Oates, M.D., L. Jackson Roberts II, M.D., Garrett FizGerald, M.D., and colleagues showed that low doses of aspirin blocked production of thromboxane, a hormone-like fatty acid that causes blood clotting and blood vessel constriction. Their work helped form the basis for the use of low dose aspirin to reduce clotting risk in heart patients.

Saving premature babies

Mildred Stahlman, M.D., is credited with establishing the first newborn intensive care unit in the country to use monitored respiratory therapy on premature and other infants born with damaged lungs.

Vaccine production

In the 1920s, Ernest Goodpasture, M.D., and colleagues developed a research technique for growing large amounts of virus in chicken embryos. The technique, which also enabled mass production of vaccines against a host of viral infections, from smallpox to influenza, is still used today.


Beginning in the late 1970s, Jackie Corbin, Ph.D., postdoctoral student Tom Lincoln, Ph.D., and Sharron Francis, Ph.D., identified and characterized a new enzyme that was believed to cause blood vessel constriction. Blocking the enzyme therefore could be a way to treat high blood pressure. Clinical tests revealed a surprising side effect — penile erection – and the blockbuster Viagra was born.